Balloon Festival 2014

The sky is cloudy but the Special Shapes balloons are rising this morning.

We drove to the Fiesta park before dawn to walk around the balloons as the crews filled the balloons with air.  On the grassy field  several hundred balloons laid flat while another couple hundred were beginning to stand up.  A lady was pointing a big fan toward one end of a balloon while two guys held up black balloon fabric so the blowing air from the fan entered the balloon. 


A large girl walked by dressed in all-white pantsuit with bell bottoms and gold piping and decorative gold braiding.  I told V. the girl looked like she was wearing an Elvis outfit.

Meanwhile, the air from the fan didn’t seem to be blowing up the balloon, I got bored, and we walked off the other direction.  10 or 15 minutes later we turned back toward the lady with the fan.  Her balloon was laying on the ground but beginning to take a shape.  The bottom of the balloon was black, the main part of the balloon was white and the top was black.

Soon the top of the balloon began to rise up.  Gradually Elvis was rising up from the field.  The same Elvis that landed in our driveway last year!

Click on the picture for more from the balloon festival.


Balloons in ABQ

Rain in the night didn’t stop the balloons from launching this morning.  As we started walking we could see about 200 hovering over the balloon fields in Albuquerque.  We were too late to see the new Yoda balloon but as we started home about 30 balloons were gliding overhead and beginning to descend.  This is the one that landed next to S-A’s house.




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Brompton Grocery Shopping


About a mile from the place we are staying is the local grocery store.  On our morning ride we stopped there, locked the green Brompton to the water dispenser and rolled the black bike with the bag into the store to get a few items.



We feel real green now.

Brompton Bag

The sun had set and the daylight was fading quickly. I clipped the Brompton bag on the front of my bike and pedaled over to the grocery store about a mile away. As I rode down the hill the bag collapsed against itself—it was empty except for the light weight cable lock. The glow from the tail light and bright trapezoid shaped spot a few yards ahead told me the lights were working.

This would be my second attempt to use the bike and bag as a shopping cart. A few minutes later I rolled into the parking lot, a little nervous about rolling the bike around inside the store.

I unscrewed the frame lock, bent over and reached my hand between the front stem and the back of the bag. Tight fit. I heard my reading glasses hit the concrete walk. I tried to swing the front wheel around to latch it to the rear frame but my forearm got stuck between the front stem and the bag. Twisting my arm I forced the front wheel around and latched it on the frame. I’m thinking it hard to fold the bike with this front bag in place. Reaching over the bike I pick up my glasses and return them to my shirt pocket. I step in front of the bike, grab the hand-grips and push the bike around and toward the doors to the store.

Whoa! The front wheel lifts and swings away from the frame. How embarrassing. Here I am, old guy with a little folding bike that looks like I stole it from a circus clown–and the bike seems to be coming apart. I try to lift the front wheel back to latch the rear frame, but the bag is still in the way. So, I reach down and grab the front wheel and lift it back to the rear frame. This is not how they fold the bikes in the YouTube videos.

Now I thinking, why did the front wheel swing away and unfold itself? Oh yes … I need unlock the seat stem and lower the stem to lock the front wheel in place. I lower the seat stem, re-lock the handle and push the bike forward. The bike stays folded and rolls forward. Into the store we go.

The bike rolls easily on the smooth tile floor with the front EZ wheels and the small wheel mounted on the rear fender. I lift the handlebars slightly and the bike rolls on the EZ wheels only. I push my shopping cart-bike to the back of the store and grab a gallon of milk that laying it nicely in the bottom of the bike bag. I look at the plastic gallon of milk laying on it’s side in my $300 bike bag. Hmmm … maybe I’ll trade this gallon of milk with one that doesn’t leak.

I pass a black display with bananas and grab a foursome. Then pick up a loaf of French bread packaged inside an open paper bag and roll to the express checkout with my three items.

As I placed my gallon of milk, bread and bananas on the shelf the clerk scanned each one and called out the total. I rolled my folded bike to the other side of the checkout stand and handed her $6. She handed me the change and asked if I wanted a bag for the milk. No thanks I said as I grabbed by groceries and placed them back in the Brompton bag, suddenly remembering the other gallon of milk that was dripping milk from the lid.

During the whole transaction, I could detect no reaction in the clerk’s face. She acted as though all her customers rolled their crunched up bikes through the store with groceries inside bike bags. That’s good, I guess.

Outside the store I shifted the bananas a little so they would ride home safely. I raised the seat again, unlocking the front wheel and reach down to grab the front stem. With the bag containing a gallon of milk, bread and bananas there was little room to get my hand and arm between the bag and the stem. Forcing my arm into the space and grabbing the front stem I tried to swing the front wheel out and toward the front of the bike. The weight of the bag threw the whole movement out of kilter and I began to lose control of my expanding bike. After a short struggle I got the wheel in place and locked. Again I was a little embarrassed considering what the whole process must have looked like.

Regardless, I put my feet on the pedals and pushed off. As I was riding off, I did not notice of any weight in the front bag. The bike steered as though the bag were empty or missing. The ride home was uneventful, except for the smile on my face because I had ridden my bike to the store, purchased groceries and was riding home.


IMG_6059Next time, I plan to remove the bag when folding and unfolding the bike, regardless of whether the bag is full or not. And make sure I slide the seat post down to lock the whole bike together. I don’t want to embarrass myself of Brompton again. As part of the crusade to persuade everyone to ride bikes it’s important that grocery shopping appear simple and flawless.

Pope’s Secretary Didn’t Burn his Boss’s Notes

Based on the actions of the highly trusted person in this story, It may be better to take care of your business personally rather than trusting someone else who thinks his judgement is better than yours.  See what you think.

Pope John Paul II’s longtime private secretary said Saturday he did not burn the late pontiff’s notes as his will demanded, arguing that the papers contain “great riches” and should instead be preserved.

Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz

Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who worked with the pope from 1966 until his death in April 2005, told Polish state radio there are “quite a lot of manuscripts on various issues,” but he offered no details.

“Nothing has been burned,” Dziwisz said. “Nothing is fit for burning, everything should be preserved and kept for history, for the future generations — every single sentence.”

“These are great riches that should gradually be made available to the public.”

Dziwisz did not say when or how that might happen.

In a March 1979 entry to his testament, John Paul said he left no material property and asked that Dziwisz burn all his personal notes.

In Saturday’s radio interview, Dziwisz suggested that some of the notes could prove useful in the late pontiff’s beatification process. Dziwisz said he took his own daily notes throughout John Paul’s papacy, which he said also could prove useful to that process but contain no opinions about individuals.

Last month, Pope Benedict XVI announced he was lifting a five-year waiting period to start the process to beatify John Paul, the last formal step before the late pontiff could be made a saint.


Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The Warren Buffett Guide to Retirement Investing

In his recently released letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett gives us a glimpse into how he views long-term investing. As arguably the greatest stock picker of our time, his perspectives may surprise you.

Buffett describes advice he has left in his will as to how the trustee should invest money Buffett is leaving for his wife. Here’s Buffett’s advice:

“My advice to the trustee could not be more simple: Put 10 percent of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90 percent in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard’s.)” Continue reading

Quilt Finished

V discovered an unfinished quilt while scrounging around her boxes from the sewing room in the Monterrey House.  Each day for the past week she sat next to the window and hand-quilted one stitch at a time.  This is the finished product.Image




Bike Oregon

Along the river that runs through Pendleton OR the city has constructed a paved bike/walking path (about 12 miles one way) that passes between the town’s commercial district and the river.  From the motels and stores downtown it is a 3 block ride to the pathway.  Pendleton is the home of Pendleton blankets and shirts.